For newly diagnosed patients my advice is ask tons of questions, be informed and be your own advocate! I made sure I knew all my options regarding surgery, the names and dosages of all my chemotherapy poisons, all the doctors/nurses direct numbers, etc. I was like a sponge, I wanted to absorb every detail of information that I could. Always bring someone with you to all your appointments. With all that your dealing with you need someone to hear and write what the doctor/nurse is saying. Another good piece of advice is to find a support group. The doctors will tell you your side effects but to have someone that has actually gone thru the hell, is soo much more helpful. I depended on them greatly for advice and to see how they handled each situation. I will never forget the group of ladies that I had chemo with.
Cancer has definitely changed my life, how could it not. Life becomes more precious. Memories become more dearer. You never know your future, so I learned to stop and smell the roses longer, to spend more time with family. I did notice that I became more bolder. I don’t stress anymore. I don’t let negative people or situations in my life. I’ve learned to stand up for myself and what is right. I’ve learned that if I fall down, its okay as long as I get right back up. I pray that I have a long life ahead of me and I’m going to live every second of it to the fullest.
Jesus was my daily strength. There was many days that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I was dying. But I just prayed and prayed for strength. That strength was in the form of my family. I have two beautiful daughters that just seeing them daily empowered me to go another day. I couldn’t give up, they needed me. God bless them too. Having your children bathe you and feed you and take care of you because you are too weak to move, is very humbling. Another strength was thru The Art of Life. This is where you get to join a local artist and they help you create your story on canvas and then that gets displayed over several places over town. That was so healing and relaxing to create what I was going thru. Now that painting hangs in my house and when I see that I think damn it, I’m an awesome breast cancer survivor.
I found some awesome support groups. Some come thru your doctors and others I Googled online. One group that I found and love was Lydia’s Purse. They connect you with other survivors all over the US. They sent me an encouraging card each week for a whole year of my treatment. That was devotion, motivation, and love. I also discovered that the state offers a breast cancer supplemental insurance. They covered anything my normal insurance did not. Also, certain chemotherapy companies offer monies to help with treatments. Another perk was that my normal insurance assigns you a case manager. She was with me day one to day 365. She helped fight to get appointments quicker, she argued that certain procedures are necessary for my treatment, etc. I was too weak to have to deal with insurances and their red tape, so she did whatever needed to be done to ensure a successful course to get me better.
I am now a 3-year survivor, but still going thru treatment. As I survivor I want to give back on what was given to me. So I started sending encouraging cards to cancer patients. What a joy that is for me and the receiver. I also think if there is a spouse involved, that just listening is so beneficial. I know this is scary to them as well, but just letting us gripe and moan instead of trying to be our nurse and fix things is better. Also, try to stay active because sadness can settle in your heart. I know that sounds nuts but I tried to go out 1 a day. My kids would drag me to some store, put me in those motorized carts. We shop around. It tired me out but we had a great time.